Saturday, May 12, 2012

Threats and how they run our lives

Last night I had two dreams that I remember.  The first was being threatened/bullied by W's baseball team (they were his team in the dream, not in real life) at a pool.  The second was that there were lots of people just wandering around our property near our house.  I tried to talk to them but they ignored me.  I called HD out to talk to them, and they ignored him too, until we said that we weren't cool with them being there and we wanted them to leave.  Then a female who was close to HD took a knife out of her book (they were all carrying books) and headed menacingly towards HD with it.  The rest of them headed towards HD as well.  He started using a stick to fight them off, and I ran inside trying to find a phone to call 911, but couldn't find one that worked, so I went upstairs to get the handgun, but I couldn't remember the combination to the safe.  Then I woke up. 

At first I was pretty shaken up.  Then I realized the theme of both of the dreams- threatening- which is a theme that has been popping up around here with more and more intensity.  W has the ability to pick up on what needs to shift, what IS shifting, what *I* need to see and move through so I can be at peace, and then act it out until I "get it".  And once I get it and work through it and release, then the behavior either stops on its own, or I am at least in a place where I can better help him work through what he needs to.  He has a gift, this boy of mine. The gift of helping me see the messages that I need to see.  Because I so often ignore the subtle, gentle signs and need those blinking neon ones that hit me upside the head (sometimes repeatedly!) before I'll pay attention.  ;)

Honestly, I have been seeing and reacting out of this pattern for at least a week, being semi-conscious of it, but I haven't really stopped, sat down, looked it in the eye, fully HEARD it, and then thanked it and let it go.  Nah, I've been treating it like an annoying fly buzzing around my head- swatting, seeing it for brief seconds out of the corner of my eye.  I knew it was THERE, I just wasn't DOING anything about it except wishing it WASN'T there.  Which doesn't really work all that well. . .

I've had clues that the topic lately has been threatening (a new one around here, or newly separated from other things) because that's what has blurted out of my mouth in a knee-jerk type reaction when W starts into acting it out.  "Stop threatening your sisters!" has come out of my mouth so many times in the last few weeks!  He takes the nerf guns and points them in their faces, swings a foam-noodle sword inches from their heads, growls or cackles like a mad scientist at them so they fear for what he's going to do to them.  Thursday we were trying to clean out the van and he would.not.stop. saying things to them that made them scream at him or cry.  Things that he said they had to do, or he was going to do things they didn't like.  It wasn't until I yelled "What is WRONG with you?!?!?" (something I've sworn to never say!) that it hit me that I needed to look deeper into this.  It wasn't just an annoying behavior.  It was important and needed my attention, and I needed to look IN me, see where the reaction was coming from, work through it in me.  But, when there is conflict between my kids and I'm not sure about their safety, I can't just go hide in my room until I have worked through it, I have to work through it while keeping everyone safe, and if I can manage it, while helping them work through it, too. That day we sword-fought together, we threw soft balls, we ran, we tried to work through it together while I tried to keep my focus on my own internal sensor screen.  If I got too overwhelmed with my own feelings and tried to take a break, he would go back to threatening his sisters.  I tried things that have worked in the past, when he would be angry and furious for hours and we would have to stay right with him and help move through it.  That hasn't happened in over a year, and I had to reach into my memory for what helped.  I focused on my own anger, made sure I was releasing it myself while doing this dance with him.  This time it felt different, though, and the more I vocalized or stomped or did things that would help release anger in the past, the more he would come at me with the sword or whatever.  It hadn't really hit me yet, that what was behind this was not anger like before, but threatening.  That day things shifted when I went out to the garage to find a tool to fix his remote control truck that had broken (and he was getting up in L's face and upsetting her because he thought she did it so working through the disappointment just wasn't cutting it because he was using blame to distract him from his own feelings), and when I came back in he was standing at the stove smiling because he had flipped the quesadilla that I was cooking and then put it on the plate when it was done.  He had done something that he had never done before and he was really happy about it!  So I taught him to make quesadillas himself and the whole day changed, and he was so proud of himself and full of his own power. 

On Friday the behaviors returned and I really GOT that what was going on was this energy of "threatening".  Friday night I did a lot of tapping around "the first feeling of being threatened".  I felt big releases.  I was woken up many times by little things, but knew that I was being woken up to continue my work.  And then those two dreams.  Yes.

Something I saw while I was tapping was this image of this certain amount of power that is needed in order to "get things done".  I saw how when someone is in fear, and is motivating another through threats, neither person has much power, all of the power needed to create action comes from the explosive, enormous cloud of the threat.  However, when two people are seated strongly in love, in the energy of love, they are filled with power, and often all that is needed is the silent offering of a hand to make things happen.

I am really seeing how huge this threatening thing is, in our homes, the way we interact with our children, with ourselves and each other.  Also during tapping I heard "The world is run on threats" and I could feel in my body the truth of that statement.  It hit me how when W was threatening his sisters, I would come back with my own threat in an attempt to get him to stop!  Giving him "the eye" which says that things will get worse for you if you don't quit what you're doing right now.  Telling him that I wouldn't take him to the store if he didn't quit acting that way, or that I would take away his nerf gun (that he spent his own money on, as he pointed out) if he kept threatening people with it- both were an attempt to scare him into stopping what he was doing.  I was doing the same thing to him that he was doing to his sisters! 

At times, as this pattern has been showing up in our house, when I have asked him why he's doing it, he has responded that he wants them to play with him and threatening them is the only way he thinks can do it!  And I see how I feel that *I* have needed the "threat" of something in my life to get things done.  Getting going because of the threat of missing what I want to do, cleaning my house because of the threat of someone judging me poorly for the state of my house, brushing my teeth because of threat of cavities or judgement from stinky breath, going to a church that makes me feel farther away from God when I walk out because of the threat of others judging me to be a bad person if I don't go, or because of the threat of hell, doing homework because of the threat of a bad grade, or because of the threat of disapproval from those who are in a position of authority.  I tend to wait until the last moment to do things, until I feel the "pressure".  Big aha there.  I have felt powerless to do anything until there is a threat attached to it.

Is it possible to do these things out of joy and love instead of threats and fear?  Is it possible to get going out of excitement for where I'm going, what I'm going to do?  Is it possible to clean my house purely out of the joy of having a clean house, the opinions of others notwithstanding?  Could I brush my teeth because I love the feeling of clean teeth and enjoy taking care of my body in this way?  Could all decisions and actions that I make come from a place of love instead of fear?  Can I stop when I feel the pressure from a threat, step out of that cloud, ground myself in love, and then act? Is it possible that I have the power to do things within me, and I don't need the power that comes from the threats that are being pushed on me?

I can also see how I have felt that I have to threaten others in order to get what I want or need.  This is so true with children, especially!  The feeling that we have to threaten children with things that they don't want in order to get them to do what we want, because children are unruly and will never just go along with what the parent wants!  That we as parents are powerless to force our children to do things (because we are!  We only truly have power over ourselves!  But so many of us don't even realize that we have THAT power!) so we have to rely on the power that comes from threats.  That fear and punishment are the only things that will motivate children.  Or even with bribes and praise, which can both carry the feeling of a threat that they will be taken away if the child does not continue as expected.  Like that both horrible and wonderful feeling of being singled out by a teacher as having done the "right" thing and how other kids should "be like you".  Ugh. 

What if, when we wanted something to happen, we grounded ourselves in love first?  We filled ourselves with the creative power of love, and then we saw the other person as also filled with that amazing power?  Maybe sat in awe of the both of us, full of this fantastic unlimited power?  And then reached out a strong but gentle hand of connection, and allowed the "doing" to come from there?  How different could our lives be?  How different could our days and homes and WORLD be, if instead of needing threats and fear to move us throughout our lives, we made the choice to move and do through love and joy?

I think I'd like to find out!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

I'm a FREAK!

About a year ago, a friend posted a question on facebook asking if you could get rid of one word, what would it be?  My immediate response was "freak".

I have felt like a freak for probably as long as I can remember.  Freak to me meant that I was so different, so "wrong" that I would NEVER belong, I would NEVER fit in.  I would always be alone, rejected, misunderstood and beyond that I was so strange I didn't even deserve to be understood.  I was a freak in kindergarten because I went to Falk School, and the kids on my soccer team teased that I went to "the Incredible Hulk School".  I wasn't very good an soccer and preferred to pick flowers while playing defense.  I was a freak in first grade because I went to three different schools in three different states and I was so shy that I didn't really make friends at any.  I think second grade was the first time I was actually called a freak- there were a bunch of older girls who liked to tease me and make fun of my clothes at recess.  My "hand me down" clothes were apparently an easy target.  My mom told me to tell them "Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me."  Except they did.  A lot.

I was a freak because I loved cats, and liked to wear clothes and earrings with cats on them.  I was a freak because my house was always messy.  I was a freak because I read too much.  I was a freak because I wore these really awesome shoes that I begged my parents to buy while we were in Denmark the summer after third grade.  There were saddle shoes- magenta and teal (my favorite colors!) and suede.  They were not a hit with the American kids.  They spent the rest of their life at the back of my closet.  For some reason I felt like less of a freak in fourth grade- I went to a private school that year, we had two teachers and about twelve kids in our class.  Despite the fact that I knew nothing about the Beatles (the most popular girl in the class loved them), I couldn't figure out how a kid got a condominium to school when another kid said he had brought a condom, and I didn't read Sweet Valley High, I felt much less out of place there.  I was back at public school in fifth grade, and while participating in the talented and gifted class once a week was awesome, that was also the year I was put on antidepressants.  I cried so much, was so unhappy, was so sensitive, was "chemically imbalanced", was so much of a freak, that I needed medicine to "fix" me.  It made me feel both better and worse.  In sixth grade I was a freak because I got my period before everyone else.  Other girls would stand on the toilets of the stalls next to me to watch me while I went to the bathroom.  I was a freak because I got good grades, was in band, did Odyssey of the Mind and Future Problem Solvers, was still a Girl Scout in High School.  I was a freak because I wasn't pretty and didn't have a nice body and I had frizzy hair that would NOT do the big bang thing no matter how much hairspray I put on it.  I was a freak because I was a Christian and didn't hide it.  I was a freak because I said things that really upset people without realizing why.  Writing it out here makes my problems seem so trivial, but they were not trivial to me then.  They were heart and soul crushing and left me with no option but to know deep down that I really and truly was a freak.  There were times that (even though I was on medication) I thought it might be better to be a dead freak. 

I was called a freak by others because of things I did or said or looked like.  The worst part, though, was that there was so much I had hidden, so much of the REAL me, so much of my own truth that would have just made me stick out even more, so much that IF ANYONE KNEW. . .  I would just have been rejected forever, eternally unlovable.  Sometimes I was aware of things others weren't, sometimes I knew what was going to happen before it did, sometimes I knew things I just shouldn't know, knew things about other people that I shouldn't know, communicate with people and animals I shouldn't be able to communicate with.  I remember sitting on my bed in middle school, doing a devotion in my Bible, and saying to myself "Well, maybe some people can see the future, but it certainly didn't come from GOD." In effect, demonizing myself.  I loved the character Topenga on the show "Boy Meets World" and so wanted to have the courage to be like her, because she was true to herself.  She was hippie, and "out there" and weird, but was still sure of who she was.  I just pushed "who I was" farther and farther away because of how "wrong" it was, how wrong *I* was. 

And, seeing my response to my friend's question, this was a feeling that I carried into adulthood.  Even with the healing I had been doing for the five years prior, that had brought me out of the depression I had been in since before I was put on medication in fifth grade, the healing that had allowed me to release my anxiety, the healing that had helped me accept parts of myself that I had hidden away. . . even through that, I still had the very painful wound of FREAK.

(Warning- if you are easily offended, you might want to skip the video below. Maybe find the radio edit song without any images.  But definitely listen to the song.  :) )

And then one day I hear P!nk's song "Raise Your Glass" on the radio, and it changed "freak" for me forever.  All of a sudden I realized that I could be a freak according to others, but that didn't mean I had to be miserable for the rest of my life because of it.  I could be a freak and still enjoy life to its fullest.  That I would always be ME, and there will always be people who consider ME to be a freak.  A dirty, nitty-gritty little freak.  And that there was a certain freedom that came with that- if you see me as a freak, as being so different that I don't fit into what you consider acceptable, then you will always see me that way, which means I can stop trying to fit myself into what you consider acceptable, because there is no point in trying!  From "freak" spoken in disgust and repulsion, to FREAK! spoken in celebration, without those old feelings attached.  As a FREAK! I'm free to be whatever I want and to stop worrying about what you think of me, because I KNOW what you think of me, and I can say that I just don't care and I choose to (and have every right to) be happy anyway.  (Getting to truly not caring has been, and still is, a bit of a journey.  But I get to go on that journey because I'm a FREAK!)  As a FREAK! I am not "less-than" I am simply outside the circle of the majority. I GET to operate outside the box!  I don't have to try to prove why I belong in your circle, which is honestly quite a relief because constantly proving myself worthy to you is completely exhausting, and doesn't give me the time to see my own worth.  And anyway there are some really amazing people out here to hang out with who I don't have to prove myself to! 

A wonderful friend posted about flying her rainbow sparkly freak flag high, and as soon as I read her words I knew I had to paint one for her.  Looking at it has given me courage to be true to me, to speak my truth, to stop even trying to "fit in".  Because having the freedom to not fit in can be freaking awesome!  :D

Friday, May 4, 2012

Taking Care of the Self

So I'm sitting here getting ready to write something, feeling good, and then HD wakes up (he fell asleep with W) and all of a sudden I'm NOT feeling good, feeling like I have to stop what I'm doing because now I'm no longer in charge of me or my time.  And all of a sudden I feel angry and bitter and resentful and constricted.  And he says "Are you grumpy?" and I say "No" in a tone that really says yes, and he asks why and I say, well, what I just wrote above.  And he agrees that he is not in charge of his time and I totally flip out and close the laptop a bit to hard and say "Fine!  I'll just go to bed right now.  You're not in charge of your time so I don't deserve to be in charge of mine either.  You're ready to go to bed now so I have to be a good wife and go to bed with you." and I flop down on the bed and cover myself with sheets not very gently.  And he pauses with this look of incredulation and mouth kind of agape and says "WHAT is WRONG with you?  I just meant that I'm not in charge of my time right now because you're in here with the light on, but if you go somewhere else then I can do what I want, which is go to bed.  Get up and do what you want.  Geez."

So, um, yeah.  I have since moved to another room and will attempt to spill out/work through a theme that has become apparent to me over the past week, which apparently just erupted all over my bedroom.  :P  I'm setting the intention that what you just read was the breakTHROUGH and not just a breakDOWN.  That it has all been expelled from my consciousness, or maybe it will hang around just long enough to get on the screen and then will be released for eternity.  Yeah.  That's a good intention.  :)  And I'm choosing not to pick apart the above conversation (even though I totally could!) and just trust that what was said was what I needed to hear to get me to where I needed to be, and leave it at that.  ;)

L is 4.  She has, in recent weeks, refused to pretty much do anything that resembles taking care of her basic needs for herself.  She needs help getting dressed, serving herself food, finding her toys, and the most annoying of all, going to the bathroom and washing her hands.  Her pleas for me to "Help me wash my hands, mama!" led to the rather deep question (although it came out deeply annoyed): "Do you want me to help you or do it for you?  Because those are two different things."  (Ahh, big important insight there for me. . .)  Her answer: "Do it FOR me!" 

I absolutely believe that behind every behavior is a need, and I have had kids long enough to know that a lot of stuff is a phase and will disappear without any sort of "training", and that four is a year of discovering how big the world is and how small the child feels in it which often leads to increased requests for help and hopefully leads to the security that help will be there when it is needed, and brings the child back to a place where s/he would like to do it all alone again.  And then five tends to be about how the child knows EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING, thank you very much, and doesn't really need the parent in much of a capacity at all.  Unless everything DOESN'T go the way s/he expected. . . 

Anyway, so I'm not really concerned that I'll end up doing everything for her forever and she'll never try to do anything on her own again, mostly I'm just trying to make it through with what patience I have.  Which, at the moment, has been on the small side of nil.  The bathroom, especially, since it often results in her ignoring her need to go until the last moment and then I have to find her new pants and undies (oh, laundry), and when it comes time to wash her hands she gets interested in something else and wants me to keep waiting until she's done.  Um, no, I'm not cool with that. 

So we have this new behavior (needing me to help with, or do LOTS of stuff that she could do herself, for her) and this incredible, knee jerk anger, frustration, and desire to tear out my own hair that comes from me.  It finally occurred to me to stop and see what she could be mirroring for me, what it is that she is triggering in me that is causing this incredible, out-of-proportion with the actual issue, reaction from me.  I can't help her when I'm flipping out myself, so taking care of MY side of the issue is really the most effective place to start.  When I remember.  And I'm not sticking my fingers in my ears because I don't want to hear it. . .

The answer came last week, when I was working to get the outside animals taken care of so I could get dinner ready so I could sit down with my kids and watch the show "Touch" (LOVE that show!)  And I was outside scooping wet bedding out of the brooding room where the ducklings had once again splashed the majority of their water onto the wood chips and it reeked and I was taking care of it right then instead of waiting until tomorrow morning and it was 8:46 (Touch comes on at 9) and dinner would absolutely not be done, and I had spent a good couple hours just prior wasting time on facebook or something and I asked  out loud "WHY do I do this?  Why do I sabotage myself so that I can't do the things I want?  Why do I wait until the last minute and then I miss what I was looking forward to???"  And I groaned and sighed and finished up and made it in JUST as the show was starting.  And as soon as the first commercial came on and I headed upstairs to work on dinner, L sayid "I need to go potty!" so I grumbled and took her up and she keept saying "I don't want to miss Touch!" and I said, annoyed "Then hurry up!" and as soon as I wiped her, she layed down on the floor and started playing with her James train, continuing to say "I don't want to miss Touch!"  And as I washed my own hands I said "Well, you would be able to do the things you want if you would just DO what you need to do yourself instead of waiting for me to do it and getting distracted by the trai. . . ."  Oh, crap.  Um, yeah, that message was for me. 

Yep, truth be told, I'm not all that great at taking care of my own needs, either.  (I had to tell myself to just get up and go to the bathroom already instead of trying to hold it until I was done writing this. . .)  And gosh darn it, do I really need to wait for other people to give me permission, or help me, or do it for me?  Do I need to wait for someone else to say "Good job, I see you've been working very hard, go take a break!" or "You did all of your work!  Good girl!  Now you can go outside and play!" or  "Well, you've completed your obligatory assignments for today, now you can work on something just for the fun of it."  or "You look tired, why don't you rest for a bit?" or "I can see how your soul is suffering under the weight of these "shoulds" that have been piled on you.  I'll take them off and throw them away for you." ????  I don't NEED to wait for others or to get permission to do any of those things.  But I feel like I DO.  Deep down I really do.  And it keeps me frozen.  And you know what?  I'm sick of it.  And I'm ready to be done with it.   

My pattern is normally to ignore my needs, push them aside, until I hit crisis point and freak out.  And then I have to do all of this intense work that takes up a lot of time to get myself semi back on track.  And I look at that time and part of me feels like it was a waste and I feel guilty about it, so I keep on ignoring my needs because I JUST took care of them (sort of) so I shouldn't need to spend more time on me, until I hit crisis point again, and the cycle continues.  Today, while I was watering my seedlings that had been neglected for a few days while I was away, it occurred to me that they would die if I took care of them the way I take care of me.  They would have no chance.  They need regular, tender, nurturing care.  And so do I. 

So, some things I can do.  Journal, paint, or sketch daily.  Wait until the day has started and everyone is fed and I have worked towards something I TRULY want to do before getting on the computer.  Look myself in the eye in the mirror and tell me I love me.  Drink enough water and eat what my body is directing me to eat.  Get outside and not just when I'm feeding the animals.  Ooh, you know, when L asks me to take her to the bathroom, I could use that as a reminder to get present and focus on my breathing, even if it's only for a few seconds.  A few seconds of gathering myself up and being mindful is better than none!  Maybe that's what she's been trying to tell me all along.  <3  My four year-old zen master.  :)

How about you?  What can you do to take care of you better?  Little ways that you can water yourself instead of trying to recover after a drought?  I'd love to hear them if you're willing to share.  We can all use more possibilities in our lives.  <3